As a child of God, “be ye glad” that you have inherited joy!
by LEE ECLOV
I WAS CHATTING WITH the owner of the Jewish deli where I often get a bagel and co_ ee for breakfast. “Is that your blue car out there?” he asked.
“Yep,” I said.
“What does your license plate mean? Buy gold?”
My license plate is BYEGLD. “No,” I said, “it’s a shortened version of ‘Be ye glad!’ He repeated that. I went on, “It’s from a song that means a lot to me, and also because I’m sort of a born whiner and can get pretty negative, it’s a reminder to me.” He was surprised because we often joke around, but joking around, of course, is not the same as joy.
REMEMBER YOUR JOY
Joy has puzzled me for a long time. I’m greatly envious of people who seem born with a bent toward joy. Joie de vivre – “exuberant enjoyment of life.” What would it be like, I wonder, to see the sunny side of life? But that’s not the same as our joy in God’s salvation. Do you remember the joy you first felt when you were saved? Joy is part of every Christian’s birthright.
Sometimes it is exuberant. I baptized a woman who burst up out of the water, arms wide, head thrown back, water spraying from her hair. That was joy.
Years ago, I went to visit an old man in the hospital on the day after _ anksgiving. I’d heard that a Christian nurse had led this man, long prayed for, to Christ. He had been a violinist in the esteemed Chicago Symphony Orchestra but had lost most of his hearing. I walked into his room, and he shouted loud enough for the angels to hear, “Well, did you hear what happened to me?”
Then there was the guy I led to Christ recently, a thoughtful, even-tempered man. After six months’ consideration, he prayed for God’s salvation. When he’d finished praying, I asked, “Well, how does it feel?”
He smiled a little and said, “It feels pretty good.” That was joy too.
REIGNITE YOUR JOY
Once we come to Christ and the wonder wears o_ a little, joy seems to lie dormant in many of us. It’s like dress clothes hanging in the closet that we only put on for special occasions. But you can’t exactly just put on joy. Joy needs to be fed, fueled, sparked. If you feel your Christian joy is dormant, try these sparks.
- Dwell on Christ. Put yourself in Mary’s place at Jesus’ feet in Luke __:__-__. You’ve been taking Christ for granted, or perhaps you’ve been so intent on serving Him that you never let Him serve you. Let some other things go. Read your Bible. Quiet your heart. See the beauty and the love of Jesus. Love for Jesus kindles the joy every time.
- Break fresh ground. Some believers haven’t discovered anything new for themselves in Scripture in ages. Maybe you remember those tiny little miniature Bibles we got in Sunday School as kids. About an inch square, with one verse on each page. That’s about all some believers have of their own. Study Scripture. As a preacher, I must study Scripture every week. It’s hard work, and I don’t always feel like it, but there’s this breakthrough when I push past what I already know and some fresh biblical gift is delivered to my heart. That is a joy.
- Serve outside your comfort zone. Remember when Jesus sent disciples out the _ rst time to tell people that the kingdom was near? Luke __:__ says, “_ e seventy-two returned with joy, saying, ‘Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.’” Their joy arose from seeing the power of Jesus’ name working through them. Ask God to take you out of your comfort zone so you might see the potency of Jesus’ name. You may go out scared, but you’ll come back rejoicing.
- Come home. I think the most poignant scene of joy in the Bible is the return of the prodigal son. We’re not actually told how the son felt, but in real life, it is always joy. The prodigal David prayed in Psalm __:__, “Restore the joy of your salvation to me.” I know what it is like to come back to God, crawling back really, to not find the frown I expected, but the Father’s embrace and welcome.
Michael Kelly Blanchard wrote the song “Be Ye Glad,” which I love so much. He reminds us that every debt we have has been paid by the grace of God. Now that’s the best reason to “be ye glad!”
LEE ECLOV is senior pastor of the Village Church of Lincolnshire (EFCA), Lake Forest, Illinois. He is an adjunct professor at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and a regular contributor to several publications as well as being the author of Pastoral Graces: Reflections on the Care of Souls (Moody Publishers).
This article originally appeared in Mature Living magazine (April 2018). For more articles like this, subscribe to Mature Living.